Politics, Not Money At Core Of Reverchon Park’s Neglect

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UPDATED February 26, 2020

Part of the city’s case for offering a 40-year lease covering part of Reverchon Park to Donnie Nelson’s Reverchon Park Sports and Entertainment LLC is the ballpark’s poor condition and the lack of money to fix it.

Let’s look at that.

But before we hit the money, let’s review one point. The lawsuit filed against the city relies in large part on Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code. Section 26.001(a) says the city council has to determine whether “there is no feasible and prudent alternative” to a proposal.

Certainly, part of making a determination of a “feasible alternative” (that doesn’t rely on leasing public lands to a for-profit private entity) is whether there’s enough cash to make said alternative happen (keeping the park public land with an operational baseball field).

The city’s poormouth cries in regards to Reverchon – and any number of other facilities – appear to be of the crocodile variety.

Back in the 2006 bond package, Reverchon Park got a chunk of change. Where was it spent?  It seems a shit-ton of it – 13 years later – remains unspent.

As of the 2018-2019 Capital Improvement Budget, Reverchon Park was sitting on $648,314 in bond money of which a pittance, ($2,363 to be precise) had been spent. In the current 2019-2020 budget, Reverchon had spent a bit, but still sat on $527,061 of which zero is committed through at least 2021-2022.

UPDATE:  On February 26th, D Magazine’s Tim Rogers wrote a column about this column. He states that there is only $331,977.91 left in city coffers from the 2006 bond NOT the $527,061 I state. I got my numbers from the officially posted 2019-2020 budget and he got his within the last week from interim Park Department director John Jenkins. Rogers says I’m off by $195,083.09. But the real question is where the $195,083.09 went between the posted budget and his call, not making it seem like I can’t add or read.

Could $527,061 (let alone $648,314) have been used to refurbish the bleachers, bathrooms and any number of other repairs to make the ballfield useful again?  I’m going to say “yes.”

Why am I saying “yes”?  Because in 2003, Dallas Parks and Recreation entered into an agreement with DISD to overhaul Randall Park near Woodrow Wilson High School.  That overhaul netted soccer, softball and baseball fields plus a 1,600 square foot concession stand, restrooms and “associated parking”. Even after adding in an irrigation system, sidewalks, shade structure and some additional work in 2006, the total bill was $1,256,178.11 – proving Park Board can effectively spend bond money.  Of course, it’s 13-16 years later, but I’m pretty dang sure one baseball field refurbishment can be had for the funds currently available – and positively positive that using the 2006 bond monies closer to 2006 would have been a budgetary cakewalk.

“Friends” of Reverchon

Need more money? A little cushion? How about the $187,250 transferred out of the Friends of Reverchon Park’s coffers (according to IRS 990 filings) in 2015 and 2016?  Those monies were given away to the Trinity Nature Conservancy. Again, according to IRS 990 filings, Trinity Nature Conservancy’s total 2015 revenues of $97,250 came from Friends of Reverchon and $90,000 of their $110,000 in revenues for 2016 came from Friends of Reverchon.

According to the group Defend Reverchon Park, Trinity Nature Conservancy shares directors and officers with Friends of Reverchon Park. If we’re to believe the Friends of Reverchon Park’s letterhead, shouldn’t their monies have been spent in Reverchon, not the Trinity?

Were these two pots administered correctly, Reverchon Park would have had a kitty of $835,564 to repair the ballfield as recently as 2018.

Why wasn’t it spent on Reverchon? Because you don’t renovate the house you’re tearing down.

With Friends of Reverchon Park, Who Needs Enemies

Let’s step back and look at how Reverchon got sold out in the first place. We know about the two shady “community” meetings held by the Parks Board in 2017 and the subsequent RFPs issued in 2018 and 2019.

Those community meetings were titled, “Reverchon Park Proposed Renovations.”  But months earlier the December 1, 2016 Park Board briefing was titled “Reverchon Park Ballfield – Proposed Redevelopment” {emphasis mine}

Those few months downgraded redevelopment to the more easily ignored (by the neighborhood) “renovations.”

But why was that Parks Board briefing instigated in the first place?

“Friends of Reverchon Park have proposed the redevelopment of the existing field by means of a long term agreement with a self-funded private entity.”

“The appropriate initiation of this re-development of the Ball Field should be issuance by Dallas Park and Recreation of a Request For Proposals which defines the desired goals and results in the identification of potential partners.”

All plastic turf for durability

That briefing outlined a redeveloped ballfield containing “1,400 permanent seats and additional 600-1,000 temporary bleacher seats.” That is precisely what was proposed in the 2018 RFP that morphed to 3,500 combined seats by 2019, and now seems to stand at a craftily-done 5,000.

How 5,000 seats?  Ditch the grass and plasti-grass the whole area under the guise of supporting rugby, lacrosse, and soccer. This creates a larger, sturdier area for concert and event “lawn” seating.

Those entrusted to safeguard Reverchon have me reinterpreting Mark Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “I come to bury Reverchon Park, not to maintain it.”

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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Comments

  1. Mike B says

    Jon, thank you very, very much for the deep digging and factual information you continue to present regarding Reverchon Park. Candy, thanks to you for having such a talented and detailed writer on your team.

  2. Jim Callahan says

    YES, Jon. Thank you for this article, and shining a light on this malfeasance. Hopefully, it will get some follow-up!

  3. Richard says

    I’d like to know why Councilman Blewett initially voted no and then 2 days later reversed his position. Seems very odd to me.

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